By George Bowers Sr.
My son and daughter-in-law are leaving the United States on Monday to fly to Zimbabwe in Africa for a two-week mission trip with their church.
As I've shared this information with others, sometimes I receive questions about the relative safety of such a trip in light of the recent Ebola outbreak. While it is a valid concern, thankfully none of the known cases have affected the particular area of the continent to which they are traveling. But the risk still exists and I would be lying if I didn't admit some apprehension and concern as a father.
Why then would they not cancel their trip and avoid such a risk altogether? Because they have heard the call of God to go. The safest place on earth is the center of God's will, regardless of what country or what situation he calls us to. Conversely, the most dangerous place is anywhere outside of his will, regardless of its apparent "safety." So, as a father, I applaud their faithfulness to go and will pray for God's blessing and protection over them and invite all readers to do the same.
Ultimately, they realize that the entire human race is dying. Every one of us is swiftly moving toward our own grave whether from cancer, heart attack, old age, accident, or Ebola. All need to know the love and mercy of God and the threat of a deadly disease only increases the urgency with which the resurrection of Jesus Christ must be proclaimed. In fact, the bigger question ought to be, "Which risk is greater: going or staying home?" If they were to remain in the "safety" of the U.S., and members of the Ndau tribe enter eternity without Jesus, the consequences are much more long lasting and painful than even Ebola.
Such is the perspective of the missionary doctors and nurses who have and who are risking their lives even in Liberia and other particularly dangerous areas. As I listen to their testimonies, they consider the salvation of one eternal soul worth their own temporal life which will perish one day anyway. Why not use it for something that will outlast it?
It is vital that we Christians view our world through eternal glasses and recognize the everlasting realities that are ignored by our culture. There is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. There are eternal consequences for our temporal decisions and it is important for us to share these realities with others. They may welcome and embrace them or they may reject and ridicule them. Our job is not to make them believe, but to share the truth of Jesus in love. If we are faithful to do so, God has promised to water and bring to fruition the seeds of our planting.
May the willingness of Allen and Ashley and the others from GraceLife Church, as well as the sacrifice of the missionary aid workers, challenge each of us to leave our own comfort and "safe" zones to share the Gospel with others who are perishing, whether it be across the street, down the hall, or around the world. We can't afford not to take some risks. Blessings, George
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, "Wit and Wisdom of the Woods." He can be reached at email@example.com.